Artist Candace Knapp loves wood and she loves living things and together the two have accounted for much of her work as an educated and professional sculptor.
A longtime Brandon resident, Knapp is scheduled to speak tonight, Sept. 19, at the Brandon League of Fine Arts meeting, at the in Brandon.
The talk is open to the public and is set to begin at around 7:30 p.m. Her work can be seen online at Knapp's Playground.
In this talk with Brandon Patch, Knapp discusses her upcoming book and 30-piece art show in St. Petersburg — her most ambitious one to date.
She talks as well about her start as an artist and her specialty in carving church pieces, which can be seen today at Nativity Catholic Church (furniture in the day chapel), at St. Stephen Catholic Church ("the Mary statue") and at St. Anne Catholic Church in Ruskin (the blue marble altar and ambo pulpit).
"We design and we build," she said, "and then we work with the marble company to cover the pieces in marble."
BRANDON PATCH: Tell me about your upcoming show . . .
- KNAPP: It’s called, “Voices in the Forest,” it's at Florida Craftsmen, it’s a solo show, it’s all carved in wood, it’s on Fifth and Central in St. Petersurg and it’s a huge show, through Oct. 22. I have 30 pieces, many of them are very big, like eight feet, and it’s a forest you walk through.
BRANDON PATCH: Larger than life, it seems.
- KNAPP: There’s a pathway you walk through, and you’re surrounded by sculptures overhead and growing from the floor and everywhere. There are no pedestals, it’s an installation, so it’s like you’re walking through this forest.
BRANDON PATCH: You also have a book coming out.
- KNAPP: I’m getting my copy this week and there’s supposed to be a book signing October 13. It’s called, “Voices in the Forest: The Wood Sculptures of Candace Knapp.”
BRANDON PATCH: When did you first decide you wanted to become an artist, for real?
- KNAPP: That was when I was in high school, in 1966, and then I went to college and got a master’s degree in sculpture, so I’ve been doing it most my life.
BRANDON PATCH: What sparked your interest?
- KNAPP: I read the book about Michaelango, "The Agony and the Ecstasy," and I thought it sounded so exciting. I went to the hardware store and I bough at straight chisel, like the kind you use in carpentry, and an ordinary hammer, and I started to teach myself to carve. But I know a lot more today.
BRANDON PATCH: What accounts for your pull toward wood?
- KNAPP: When I went to art school I used bronze, epoxy, clay, all the different materials, but after I got my master's [degree], wood seemed to be the easiest one to use and the one I was most comfortable working with.
BRANDON PATCH: All these years you've stuck with wood.
- KNAPP: It's alive, it's living. Even though it's been cut own, it still feels alive. My sculptures, they're of creatures and living beings, so that's why wood is conducive to making them. That's what it's like to be in the forest, birds overhead and all these creatures.
BRANDON PATCH: You've said this is your most ambitious exhibit to date.
- KNAPP: I've had installations before. Before, I had maybe two large grassy plots you walk between. But now I have seven grassy plots, arranged so there's a pathway between them. So, yes, it's the biggest grouping [of scupltures].
BRANDON PATCH: What makes you an aritist?
- KNAPP: To me, it's the most natural thing to do. The easiest and most natural thing to be. I thought of other things, but this is the one that was easy, a no-brainer.
BRANDON PATCH: Do you teach?
- KNAPP: I teach a clay class on Thursday mornings, but that's more for fun, at the Old Hyde Park art center. [It's a closed class,] I've had the same students for 21 years.
BRANDON PATCH: What are you known for?
- KNAPP: Back in Houston, in the 1970s, a priest saw my work at the gallery in the Galleria. He thought I could be someone who could carve statues and he gave me my first statue-carving job. He commissioned me to make a statue for his church, it was a statute of the Annunciation. It was Mary being approached by the angel and it stood about eight fee high.
BRANDON PATCH: What would you say to today's students, about a life in pursuit of art?
- KNAPP: It's hard to make a living as an artist, but if you love it, it's worth doing. And you have to find your niche, something that you can enjoy doing that also you can earn money at. The best is if the thing you make money at is the thing that you enjoy doing.
BRANDON PATCH: You live in Brandon, and were a founding member of the Greater Brandon Arts Council. What would you say about the community, in terms of the arts?
- KNAPP: There are very many talented artists in this area. For some reason, the people in this area don't get to know about them enough. They are not visible enough. In hard economic times, it's even harder to get known. There may be a lot of reasons why, I don't know, but there are talented artists here.
BRANDON PATCH: Why is art important?
- KNAPP: Art is inspiring and it's something that makes you happy about being alive, and especially when you're down, it would be nice to have something pleasant to look at and enjoy.